Many congregations are considering implementing their digital services as a permanent offering. This could be a helpful addition to your congregation's mission. It can be part of bringing new people in and/or providing a connection for home-bound members. However, there are lots of decisions to make and equipment to purchase. Check out the infographic below for different sanctuary setups, and keep scrolling for more detail and recommendations.
But first, one key set of decisions to make is whether to live stream or pre-record the service. Here's some helpful pros and cons of each:
|Lends to feeling of shared experience for congregants.||Provides congregants flexibility for when church starts.|
|Best with strong internet connection, wired ethernet preferred. Minimum 5 Mbps upload speed, 10 Mbps preferred.||Useful if working with a weak internet connection.|
|Requires additional staff/volunteers to run during service.||Can be uploaded later by single person.|
Legalities in Order
- Sermons, prayers and scripture readings may be broadcast without penalty. Broadcasting music must adhere to copyright laws.
- Performing music outside public domain over video often requires a copyright license. Current CCLI Streaming fees are reasonable & slide based on congregation size.
- Consider parental photo consent forms for children.
Good Audio Quality
viewers will quickly forgive poor video. They will not quickly forgive poor audio.
- Best option for churches with sound system: send wire from an available output port into camera or computer.
- If output from sound system is not possible, attach/mount external microphone to camera. DO NOT use internal camera microphone (see star above). Place both as close to pulpit as possible for best audio quality, and to minimize background distractions.
- Recommended external microphones: Rode VideoMic Go, Rode VideoMic Pro (better for music & bass tones)
- Wired connection is ALWAYS preferred
- If/when using Wifi, run a speed test to gauge bandwidth.
- Upload speed, in particular, should dictate the stream quality. High upload speed/5-30+ Mbps = high video quality (HD). Low upload speed/<4 Mbps = lower video quality (SD).
Cameras in order of expense
- Smartphone or Tablet (assuming you already have one)
- Recommended add-on: mount or rig to connect to tripod & external microphone
- Consumer-grade Camcorder (recommended models: Canon VIXIA, Panasonic HC)
- Essential features: external audio input, USB and/or HDMI output, ability to view audio level on camera viewfinder
- PTZ [Pan/Tilt Zoom] Camera (mounted to walls, ceilings or rafters (often used for surveillance))
- Best to get tripod that is made to swivel or pan the view smoothly & helps camera find level. This is even more essential in a single camera setup where the camera may need to move to keep people in the frame. Cheap tripods almost always lead to disappointment!
- 2020 best tripods list from DigitalCameraWorld.com
- Minimum Specifications:
- Quad core processor
- 8 GB RAM
- 500 GB Hard Drive
- Integrated Graphics Card or GPU
- Streaming platform - YouTube, Facebook Live, etc.
- Video encoder or switcher - Intermediary hardware and/or software that receives video feed from camera(s) & sends out to broadcast. Broadcast to multiple platforms is possible. Which to choose?
- Software-only setups with single cameras can be run on most laptop and desktop machines.
- Software-only setups with multiple cameras is not highly recommended. Would require high-quality, high-powered computer graphics card, at minimum, to pull off.
- Software switchers include: OBS Studio (free, backed by Facebook), vMix, Wirecast